By DAMIAN J. TROISE
AP Business Writer
Stocks rose in afternoon trading on Wall Street Wednesday and added to the week’s gains ahead of the Christmas holiday.
The S&P 500 rose 0.8% as of 1:11 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 222 points, or 0.6%, to 35,715 and the Nasdaq rose 0.8%.
The Russell 2000, a measure of small-company stocks, rose 0.7%. Indexes were mostly higher in Europe and Asia.
Every major U.S. index is still on track for weekly gains after a choppy several days where stocks bounced between sharp losses and solid gains. It is a shortened week for traders, with U.S. markets closed Friday in observance of Christmas.
Technology stocks led the gains. Microsoft rose 1.1% and Apple rose 1%.
Retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending rose following an encouraging consumer confidence report.
Tesla jumped 6.2% after CEO Elon Musk reportedly said he sold enough stock to reach his goal of selling 10% of his stake in the electric vehicle maker.
Hotel operators and other travel-related stocks also moved higher. Marriott rose 2.7%.
Utilities and materials companies lagged the market.
Bond yields edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.46% from 1.48% late Tuesday.
The latest surge in coronavirus cases because of the omicron variant has been hanging over markets, along with concerns about rising inflation and its impact on economic growth.
The Commerce Department on Wednesday said the U.S. economy grew at a 2.3% rate in the third quarter, slightly better than previously thought. But prospects for a solid rebound going forward are being clouded by the rapid spread of the latest variant of the coronavirus.
“The market is a little uncertain about that (omicron), but seems somewhat convinced that it isn’t going to turn into another lockdown,” said Scott Wren, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
Governments in Asia and Europe have tightened travel controls or pushed back plans to relax curbs already in place. In the U.S., President Joe Biden announced Tuesday the government will provide rapid-test kits and increase vaccination efforts but gave no indication of plans for restrictions that might disrupt the economy.
Investors have also been busy shifting money between sectors as the close of the year approaches and they prepare for higher interest rates in 2022. The Federal Reserve has said it will hasten the process of cutting its bond purchases that have helped maintain low interest rates and that opens the door to rate increases from the central bank in 2022.
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